Ched Evans: Katie Hopkins 'bizarre and misogynistic' support for convicted rapist condemned by women's rights groups

The footballer has been allowed to train with the club once again

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The Independent Online

Katie Hopkins weighed in on the discussion surrounding Ched Evans and the resignation of Charlie Webster yesterday, with remarks that have been firmly criticised by women’s groups Rape Crisis and the End Violence Against Women Coalition.

Webster resigned as patron of Sheffield United, after the club allowed Evans, a convicted rapist, to return for training. He was freed from prison in October, having served half of his five year sentence.

Patrons of the club, Sixties pop star Dave Berry and local businesswoman Lyndsay Graham, have also since stepped down from Sheffield United Community Foundation.

In January, Webster, also a Sky Sports presenter, revealed that she was the victim of sexual abuse as a teenager and that month embarked on a 250-mile, seven-day run between 40 football grounds for the charity Women's Aid.

However, Hopkins has “trivialised sexual violence against women and girls” in her latest tweets, which reference Webster’s decision to resign.

“Katie Hopkins has evidently built her personal brand on making ill-informed, offensive and hateful public comments,” said a spokesperson for Rape Crisis.

“In light of the classist and racist views she’s unapologetically voiced, we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised if she now adds rape apology and misogyny to the attitudes she’s willing to espouse in her tireless quest for self-publicity.”

The charity said that it is “bizarre and deeply insulting” that Webster “should be ‘jealous’ of a convicted rapist”. The spokesperson also said that it was “naive” to assume that Evans had no responsibility as a role model – an issue Nick Clegg reiterated today, as discussed the footballer’s career.

“Football holds an incredibly important position in our culture and communities and successful footballers are inevitably celebrated as heroes and role models, including by huge numbers of impressionable young people,” said the Rape Crisis spokesperson

“If Katie Hopkins doesn’t understand that, perhaps this indicates how out of touch she is with the majority of people’s everyday experience.”

Sarah Green of End Violence Against Women Coalition, a group who has already called to Sheffield United to reconsider its decision, added that Hopkins comments are “profoundly disrespectful to Webster”.

“Webster is not a newcomer to this case and has supported the club all her life,” said Green.

“It’s of great personal interest to Charlie. She’s put herself on the line after talking about the sexual abuse she suffered and in talking about the responsibility of footballers as role models. In this context Ms Hopkins'remarks are nasty.”

There has been much debate about the reinstatement of Evans. Yesterday Labour MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield published a public letter challenging Evans’ return, writing that it “sends a disturbing message to young people and victims of sexual violence about how we view rape”.

A petition urging the club not to reinstate the footballer has been so far signed by over 162,200.